Russia Moves To Decriminalize Domestic Violence

In Russia, beating your wife is sometimes part of "traditional" family values.

By Jaime Lutz

The Russian parliament gave initial approval to a draft law decriminalizing domestic violence this week, garnering cries of outrage from human rights watchdogs.

The bill would get rid of criminal punishment for domestic violence that stops short of severe injury, such as broken bones or a concussion, or rape, according to the Associated Press. It would apply to violence against any family member, including young children, women, and the elderly.

If the bill passes its second reading on Wednesday, it is likely to go on to President Vladimir Putin’s desk for signage.

Russian observers say this proposed law is intended to garner favor with proponents of "traditional" family values, which in Russia sometimes means beating your wife. Currently, nearly 20 percent of Russians say that it’s sometimes okay to hit a spouse or a child, according to a survey this month by a state-run pollster. And many police officers in Russia are reluctant to respond to reports of domestic violence, considering it none of their business, the AP said. 

"I think it's part of an overall ideology: aggression and violence are on the rise in society in general since war is everywhere and we're surrounded by enemies," said anti-domestic violence activist Alyona Popova, referring to Russian propaganda. 

“Passage of this law would be a huge step backward for Russia, where victims of domestic violence already face enormous obstacles to getting help or justice,” said Yulia Gorbunova, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The domestic violence bill would reduce penalties for abusers and put victims’ lives at even greater risk.”

70 percent of Russian women have been subjected to at least one form of violence—physical, sexual, economic, or psychological—by their husbands, a 2005 study by Amnesty International found.

[Image: Getty Images]

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